Cucumber: there is no way around this veggie in 2017
CUCUMBER: THERE IS NO WAY AROUND THIS VEGGIE IN 2017
The global use of cucumber as a flavor has almost quintupled between 2011 and 2016, according to Mintel. No wonder! We’ve seen the trending veggie everywhere – from smoothies to potato chips, from yogurt to ice cream. Many nutrition experts and chefs predict cucumbers will to dominate making it one of the major food and flavor trends of 2017.
And social media agrees, the humble cucumber is everywhere: According to Pinterest and its 13 Billion Food Pins (!), veggie chips are one of the strongest food trends in 2017 with cucumbers being an extremely popular potatoe substitute.
Historically, cucumber cultivation can be traced back some 3000 years originating in the foothills of the Himalayas, what is probably known today as India. The cucumber eventually made its way to Egypt and was subsequently cherished by the ancient Romans and Greeks who brought it to Europe.
Today more than 50 million tons of cucumbers are cultivated, China grows an amazing three quarters of the global output, followed by Turkey, Iran and Russia. As the cucumber is very cold-resistant, it can be grown almost everywhere.
SO MANY VARIETIESFrom long to short, green to yellow – cucumbers come in a wide range of varieties. Wikipedia lists 107 different types of cucumbers – emphasizing that the list is not complete! Here is a list of the most important sorts:
The English or European cucumber: almost seedless, thin skinned without spines and long (1-2 feet in length); marketed as a “burpless” cucumber with mild flavor compared too many other types.
Garden cucumber: most common cucumbers in North America, smooth skinned, dark green. Often waxed, therefore tend to need peeling.
Armenian cucumbers, also called snakemelon or snake cucumber: very long, twisted fruit with dark green, thin skin and pale green stripes the length of the fruit – which turns yellow and aromatic as it ripens; mild flavor.
Kyuri, or Japanese cucumbers: slim, dark green with small bumps and thin skins; crisp and sweet with tiny seeds.
Kirby cucumbers: perfect for pickling, therefore sometimes sold as “pickling cucumbers”; crisp, thin skinned with tiny insignificant seeds.
Lemon cucumbers: size of a big lemon with pale lemon hued skin; sweet, without that bitter edge that most cucumbers have.
Gherkins: very small, most often pickled; especially popular in France, where cornichons (pickled gherkins) are a classic accompaniment to pâté.
HEALTH BENEFITSIt isn’t just trendy and tasty! The health benefits are widely underestimated, check out what the cucumber has to offer:
- multiple B vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B7 which help manage stress.
- polyphenols called lignans which may lower the risk of cancer.
- anti-inflammatory-effect on multiple levels, among others supporting brain health with its anti-inflammatory fisetin.
- numerous antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene.
- high in fiber but very low in calories (15 calories per 100 g). This boosts your digestive health and helps to maintain a healthy weight.
- contain potassium, which is associated with lower blood pressure levels, supports your heart health and is an important intracellular electrolyte.
- are made up of 95% water which helps you stay hydrated.
HOW TO COMBINE CUCUMBER TO MEET CONSUMER DEMANDSCucumbers can enhance and improve fresh flavor notes, and as a result has become a “go-to” for product developers. Its mild flavor is ideal for a wide range of culinary creations. Next to being considered somewhat omnipresent in smoothies, the cucumber is the most popular vegetable in dairy combinations: together with apple, kiwi or melon in sweet yogurts.
With dill or carrot or even Wasabi cucumbers are the right ingredient for delicious spreads and dips. On the more fruity side it’s the perfect match for combinations with apple (our recommendation: add celery!), lemon (add mint), orange (add ginger), and pineapple (add carrot).
We have searched the web for the latest cucumber combinations:
Cucumber Semolina Cake: based on a traditional Indian recipe but milk replaced with cucumber juice and fresh curd for a healthier version.
Cucumber Doogh: Afghan yogurt drink with full fat plain yogurt, some water Persian or English cucumber (chopped), mint leaves (chopped), some salt & pepper; served on the rocks.
Paleo, healthy, and low carb: Spiralized Sesame Cucumber Salad
Spread “Benedictine”: specialty from Kentucky with cream cheese, cucumber and onion.
The ideal surprise for summer garden parties: Cucumber and Lime Cupcakes.
Kickstart your day with the Cucumber Avocado Smoothie with avocado, cucumber, cilantro, and lime juice!
- The mild yet fresh taste is perfect for a whole array of creative cucumber-combinations.
- Incorporating them into your food and beverage products definitely taps into the consumer strong desire to have products that not only taste good, but are also good for them!
- Adding cucumber as an ingredient to your brands portfolio is definitely worth exploring.
Have you been inspired?
AGRANA FRUIT is here to support the development of products that will meet today's consumer demands and in turn help grow your business.
We have a variety of solutions to meet your product development needs, including ones that feature cucumber. Our team of experts is ready to help, please contact us to discuss your next project.